Romania’s government hurries to place a Commissioner before no-confidence vote

File photo. Romanian Prime Minister Viorica Dancila, accompanied by and Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki (not pictured), delivers a speech during a common media statement that concluded the two governments working meeting held at Victoria Palace in Bucharest, Romania, 18 September 2019. [Robert Ghement/EPA/EFE]

Romania’s centrist opposition is seeking to topple the government in a parliamentary no-confidence vote next week, one year ahead of a general election, the National Liberal Party (PNL) said on Tuesday (1 October).

Prime Minister Viorica Dăncilă’s cabinet lost its majority in August after a coalition junior ally ALDE quit over policy disagreements, leaving her vulnerable to a censure motion.

ALDE withdrew from the ruling alliance after its leader Călin Popescu-Tăriceanu lost a bid to become the sole pro-government candidate in a presidential election scheduled for November.

“We’re filing the censure motion later today,” said PNL president Ludovic Orban, saying the largest opposition grouping had gathered 237 signatures from lawmakers to back its bid.

A government can be toppled if a majority of Romania’s members of parliament, or 233 MPs, vote to back the no-confidence motion. Political commentators, however, said a slim four-seat margin gives the government high chances of survival.

The vote could take place as early as Friday.

EU and US authorities have strongly criticised the governing alliance for an overhaul of Romania’s judiciary which they say threatens the rule of law, and for watering down anti-graft legislation.

Voters turned on the government in European parliament elections in May, with support for the ruling Social Democrats (PSD)almost halving compared to levels at the 2016 general election.

Romania is to name a commissioner in replacement of PSD’s Rovana Plumb, who was rejected by the European Parliament’s Parliament’s legal affairs committee, for issues relating to conflict of interest – a €800,000 loan she received from a private person to finance her election campaign.

EURACTIV Romania writes that Dăncilă has said that the new Romanian commissioner designate is Dan Nica, a current MEP from PSD.

Nica however has issues with the so-called Microsoft dossier – an ongoing political scandal and criminal investigation in Romania, involving large bribes paid to Romanian government members in exchange for approving increases in license fees for Microsoft products.

Gabriela Ciot, Secretary of State for European Affairs at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, is the alternative Romanian proposal, according to EURACTIV Romania.

Ciot is also an associate professor at the Faculty of European Studies of Babeș-Bolyai University Cluj-Napoca.

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